‘Mercury News’ Editor Responds to ‘E&P’ on NAHJ and Diversity

By: E&P Staff

Dave Butler, editor of the San Jose (Ca.) Mercury News, sent this letter last night in regard to our story of March 24.

It is published in full.

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To clarify the record just a bit, this is in response to your story ?NAHJ Drops San Jose Mercury News from Diversity Program?

I believe, if I understand the NAHJ issue correctly, the problem is that the Mercury News will not guarantee that it will soon make hires nor that it will focus on hiring more minority staffers. As I explained to the NAHJ officials, in the wake of laying off 15 editorial staffers, the Merc is unlikely to be doing much hiring anytime soon. But more importantly, I explained that the Merc?s contract with the Newspaper Guild calls for it to give first consideration in any hiring to those folks who were just laid off ? as one would hope it would.

So irrespective of our desire to increase staff diversity ? and that remains a long-term goal ? the newspaper is bound by its contract. It?s unclear why the NAHJ wouldn?t want to put the Merc ? and other newspapers that are likely to fall into this category ? into a ?deferred? or limbo-like status until the situation changes rather than ?suspending? the partnership. But that?s their choice. In any case, the story suggests that the Merc took some incorrect action or failed to take some action. The fact of the matter, as I outlined above, is that we?re following the rules. I also don?t see that the Merc was contacted for comment for this story.

Dave Butler, Editor
San Jose Mercury News

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